Tuesday, September 11, 2018

New York note

State Senate candidate Robert Jackson.

I'll start with the hardest part in Thursday's New York state primary: what to do about the attorney general race, which features two candidates I really like and have voted for in other campaigns, Fordham professor and corruption expert Zephyr Teachout, who ran in a quixotic campaign for governor against Andrew Cuomo four years ago (and more seriously in my old upstate House district for Congress in 2016) and New York City public advocate Letitia James, who was the first New Yorker to win an election as a member of the Working Families Party, for a Brooklyn Council District in 2003, and as a Democrat ever since has been a thorn in the side of abusive developers, abusive police, and Michael Bloomberg; and before that served as a public defender and an assistant attorney general for Brooklyn under Eliot Spitzer, in 1999, when she was noted for combating predatory lenders. (The Working Families Party has for once avoided making the wrong decision by endorsing both.)

And then there's the (just barely and well within the margin of error) front runner Sean Patrick Maloney, congressman from the Hudson Valley, who I don't really like at all for reasons that have little to do with the attorney generalship:
In 2012, during his first run, he refused to say whether he would have voted for the Affordable Care Act. In 2014, Maloney said he voted against Obama more than 40 percent of the time on “86 critical votes” during his first two years in Congress.
He was one of 39 Democrats in 2013 to vote for the Keep Your Health Plan Act, which would have let insurers continue to sell plans that did not meet Obamacare’s minimum requirements — a move Democrats at the time worried would undermine the nascent exchanges.
Maloney voted to kill the Independent Payment Advisory Board, sometimes known as the death panel, which was also a part of the Affordable Care Act. And he was one of nine House Democrats to vote with Republicans to delay implementation of the Affordable Care Act rather than shut down the government in 2013.
And has received $338,000 from real estate interests, some of it just in the last week under somewhat ugly circumstances, during the campaign. And has taken a ridiculously combative tone in campaigning, focusing on the election itself in instead of the functions of the attorney general's office, as if there was a chance of a Republican winning in November and what comes after doesn't matter.

I've been leaning Teachout since she announced, because of her focus on corruption, which has been a nonpartisan problem in New York politics forever, and because I didn't have a clear sense of how relevant James's résumé is to the job (had no idea what she was up to 20-odd years ago), and more recently because Governor Cuomo has endorsed James and thus kind of thrown his own vague odor of corruption onto her candidacy, but I've finally changed my mind, partly in response to the polling

that suggests Teachout just isn't going to win, and that Maloney easily could, and partly based on the explanation from @armandodkos of where it is that Teachout has no support:

Which isn't exactly surprising, when you come to think of it: James being black and familiar and attractive and eminently qualified for the job means people of color aren't seeing any reason to vote for the white and unfamiliar Teachout (has Teachout made any special efforts to reach out to these communities? I don't know). A "left" to which women of color aren't gravitating isn't a "left" I want to be in, ever but especially this year. If I had a legitimate objection to Tish James, as opposed to Cuomo, it would be another matter, but I don't. I think she's great, and she does have the record.

I'll almost certainly vote for Cynthia Nixon in the gubernatorial primary, as a dumbass protest against Cuomo, in part because of the latest and grossest dirty trick from some as yet unidentified Cuomo forces (a New York Democratic Party mailer falsely accusing Nixon of "ignoring the rise of anti-Semitism", which Cuomo has denied knowing about and condemned in remarkably weak terms) in the confidence that he'll win. If she does win I'm not apologizing, I don't think she'd be a disastrous governor any more than Jesse Ventura or Arnold Schwarzenegger were, she's clearly very smart and capable of asking the right people for help where she's out of her depth, but I don't like celebrity candidates on principle, don't think it's something Democrats should be doing, and wish I had a more realistic choice.

Jumaane Williams challenging Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul is an easier decision, though he's also very unlikely to win, because he's just a much better candidate; I can imagine him doing something in the way of public advocacy in this stupid position, in which Hochul has been a complete nonentity, as Cuomo intended her to be.

Easiest of all is the State Senate primary, in which Democrats have a chance to get rid of the former members of the so-called Independent Democrats Caucus which formed around Bronx senator Jeff Klein as an entity to form a coalition with the Senate Republicans and get themselves power positions in the hierarchy, which we all felt Cuomo liked as a brake against the increasing activism of the Assembly. They include John Liu (former comptroller and my favorite mayoral candidate in 2013, though I'm not sorry de Blasio won) running against the worn-out old Archie Bunker Tony Avella in Queens, Alessandra Biaggi running against Klein himself in the Bronx, and in my West Side district former councilman Robert Jackson challenging novice Marisol Alcántara, who seems to have been dumped by her chief patron, now Congressman Adriano Espaillat becoming an important progressive voice in Washington (details in Spanish, this situation is not getting covered in the English-language press), which makes it pretty likely that Jackson will win, I think. For more details on these races see my friends at noidc.org.

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